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Medical Malpractice and Patient Safety in Calgary Hospitals

Posted in: Blog // Written on behalf of Cuming & Gillespie
March 11, 2016

An ongoing medical malpractice case involving a Calgary family and a Toronto hospital has been making headlines and raising many questions among the Calgary public. As one of Calgary’s leading personal injury and medical malpractice law firms, we here at Cuming & Gillespie feel it’s our responsibility to help keep people informed about their legal rights, and is this case has been causing some confusion we thought we’d chime in.

We do not know the full facts of this case and cannot comment on the legal particulars, however we can address some of the larger issues of medical malpractice law, how they differ in Ontario and Alberta, and what you can generally expect from your Calgary hospitals and medical professionals in similar cases.

The Medical Community Needs Protection, And So Do Patients

The basic facts of this case as reported in the media are as follows: an adult woman was prescribed an antibiotic for a toothache, and the next day went to a hospital in Toronto feeling disoriented and vomiting. Though initially treated for an adverse reaction to the medication and expected to recover, her situation quickly deteriorated and she passed away the same day she was admitted to the hospital.

What happened to precipitate her death remains unclear, and this lack of clarity appears to be a large part of the impetus behind the medical malpractice lawsuit filed by the woman’s parents, who still reside in their long-time family home in Calgary. In Ontario, a law called the Quality of Care Information Protection Act (QCIPA) allows hospitals to keep a great deal of information about the care they provide private, even from family members and lawyers working on behalf of patients.

The intention of this law is to give medical professionals and institutions the freedom they need to make often uncertain medical decisions without fearing blame or recriminations when efforts don’t yield optimal results. If doctors and hospitals were punished every time a patient’s condition worsened, providing medical services would be impossible, and aggressive treatments would go undiscovered and unused.

Opponents of the law, however, including the family involved in this case, say it leaves them without answers and makes it impossible to hold doctors and hospitals accountable for their mistakes. How can what seemed to be a simple medicinal allergy result in a death just seven hours later? There might not have been any fault at all on the part of the medical professionals involved, but by invoking this law and refusing to release information to the family the hospital makes it impossible for anyone to know whether or not malpractice occurred.

Pursuing a Medical Malpractice Case in Calgary

Alberta doesn’t have a law that’s directly equivalent to the QCIPA, which can make it easier to get the facts necessary for a medical malpractice case. It also means the medical community operates with more transparency, which is good for everyone—doctors, hospitals, and patients alike.

The vast majority of the medical community, here in Calgary and in Toronto, takes the utmost care with every patient they serve. When someone makes a mistake due to negligent behavior and causes serious harm, they need to be held accountable. Alberta’s laws allow for this accountability, and an experienced Calgary medical malpractice lawyer can help you achieve it. For a free initial consultation regarding your medical malpractice case, please contact our office today.

 

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